Eastern Europe

NATO Divided On How To Upgrade Ukraine’s Status During Summit

Zelensky with Stoltenberg

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As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) summit approaches, member states have been privately discussing what Ukraine’s status within the alliance should be. While all members are in favor of elevating Kyiv’s status, the members have not been able to agree on a united path for Ukraine to join the bloc.

The alliance is preparing for its scheduled Vilnius Summit that will take place in Lithuania in July during which it is expected that ties between Kyiv and the organization will be strengthened.

In April, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Ukraine’s membership status will be discussed during the summit. “The Vilnius Summit will be important for many reasons… President Zelensky will raise the issue of membership, of security guarantees, and this will be high on the agenda of the meeting,” Stoltenberg said.

“Ukraine’s future is in NATO. All Allies agree on that,” he added.

The alliance appears to be split on Kyiv’s membership with Eastern European members wanting a clear path established for Ukraine to join the bloc, including providing defined steps and a timeline for achieving full membership, while Western countries, including the U.S., disagree and insist that the focus should be on the war against Russia rather than ensuring Ukraine’s immediate membership.

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The member states resisting giving Kyiv full membership have expressed concerns that doing so would put NATO in direct conflict with Russia, while U.S. officials said they view, “Membership and potential security guarantees as matters that should be addressed as part of an eventual settlement to the war.”

While the U.S. is in support of upgrading NATO-Ukraine relations or a decision for NATO to provide additional technical support to Kyiv’s defenses, the Biden administration appears to be against publically admitting that it is against Ukraine becoming a full member of the alliance, according to Zerohedge.

While press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last month that the decision to admit new members is “up to NATO” she reaffirmed that Washington’s current focus is assisting Ukraine to “push back against Russian aggression.”

According to an Eastern European official familiar with the NATO talks, there is “something of a ping-pong between Germany, France, and the U.S.,” with each country blaming the others for not giving Kyiv a clear path forward. While NATO officials work to resolve the remaining disagreements, they are united in the belief that it’s important to present a unified presence in public.

Meanwhile, Putin has denounced Kyiv seeking NATO membership, citing NATO expansion as a primary reason for his invasion of Ukraine.

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